Friday 27 November, 2020

Devant: ‘Is Kamla afraid to debate me?’

Devant Maharaj wants a debate with UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Devant Maharaj wants a debate with UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Former minister Devant Maharaj has questioned whether incumbent leader of the United National Congress (UNC) Kamla Persad-Bissessar is afraid to accept his challenge to a debate as the party gears up for its internal election on December 6.

Maharaj is yet to confirm which position he’ll be contesting. While it seems likely he’s set his eyes on the post of political leader, he said he’s “monitoring the election issues raised” before he makes an announcement.

He took note that leadership challenger Vasant Bharath has accepted the challenge to a debate while there’s been “stony silence” from Persad-Bissessar.

“While Vasant Bharath has accepted the challenge Kamla like on most national issues remains in hiding deep in South Trinidad unreachable by the media and others for a response,” he said.

Further, he’s accused the outgoing leadership of being unbothered with transparency and fairness for the internal elections, including the issue of a debate.

Maharaj said he wrote on several occasions to outgoing party chairman Peter Kanhai seeking clarification on the electoral process that would be adopted but is yet to receive a response.  

He proposed a few conditions which he said would make the debate more palatable to Persad-Bissessar.

Maharaj proposed the debate be held in South Trinidad (M Rampersad Building or the Philippines) “given that all UNC’s activities need to be south-based for the leadership to attend” and after 6pm “given that the leadership appears not to stir before then”.

He added that the debate could be moderated by anyone of the incumbent’s choosing and the reading of notes be allowed “given the leadership appears to be incapable of debating without reading”.

Maharaj further proposed that Persad-Bissessar be allowed to leave before the debate’s conclusion “as in done in many Parliamentary debates and allow any of the UNC Kindergarten MPs that may be contesting the internal elections replace the leadership during the debate”.

He said the proposed accommodations are “more than suitable” to facilitate Persad-Bissessar’s participation and advantage and thus expects a positive response to the challenge for a debate.

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